A Masonic Patent

by Midnight Freemason Contributor

W.B. Gregory J. Knott

When the term patent is used in Freemasonry, most will think of a certificate of membership in one of the Masonic bodies. It is used as proof of membership, especially when a brother may travel from one jurisdiction to another.
Figure 1 Courtesy of Library of Congress

But did you know that the United States Patent Office can grant you a Masonic patent? Not for membership in a Masonic body, but if invent something that is deemed worthy of a government patent. Many years ago, especially in the golden age of fraternalism, several patents were issued for inventions that were related to freemasonry. 

Patent number US 133236 was granted on November 19, 1872 to Royal H. Lyon for an “Improvement in apparatus for the display of masonic emblems”. This device was an early day picture projector that could show various slides for use in the Masonic lectures.
Figure 2 Google Patent Search

James McCoy of Ypsilanti, Michigan filed a patent for “Improvement in masonic badges” on March 25, 1876 and was granted patent US183318A. His patent would allow a square and compass badge to be moved up and down a pin, with the badge position being used to indicate the position the member held in the lodge.
Figure 3 Google Patent Search

Perhaps you have an idea for a new Masonic neck ornament as Charles S. Cowell did on January 31, 1956 when he was granted US patent USD176756S for his design of masonic jewelry.

Figure 4 Google Patent Search
Our Masonic brethren have always been creative and builders of ideas. So the next time you are sitting in a lodge meeting and you find your mind wandering during another thrilling session of the reading of the minutes and paying of the bills, you might think of an invention that would be the next greatest advancement for the fraternity. 


WB Gregory J. Knott is the Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He's a member of both the Scottish Rite, and the York Rite, and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club in Champaign-Urbana. He's also a member of the Ansar Shrine (IL) and the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. He holds membership also in The Masonic Society, The Scottish Rite Research Society and the Philalethes Society. Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts--an Eagle Scout himself, he serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois A. F. & A. M. as their representative to the National Association of Masonic Scouters

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